Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, campaigned in Minneapolis and St. Paul on Saturday, telling voters her husband will serve all Americans and has a plan to address the COVID-19 pandemic if elected.
Biden ended the day addressing about 50 guests at a Minnesota Women for Biden event in Minneapolis, where she gave a speech that touched broadly on key themes without delivering on specific policy details.
She did not take questions from the guests, nor did she take questions from the media at any point during her public visit, which began about 2 p.m. and ended about three hours later.
"Joe has spent his entire career listening and bringing people together," Biden said at the last event at Utepils Brewery. "He will be a president for all Americans."
Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, Democratic U.S. Sen. Tina Smith and DFLer Esther Agbaje, who is running for state representative, warmed up the crowd, which stood socially distanced in the brewery's courtyard. They touted Biden and Harris' merits and called on women to turn the tide in this fall's election.
"Women, our voices are strong, but only if we use them," Smith said. "Are you ready to use them in this election?"
In her wide-ranging speech, Biden commended Minnesota's female politicians for breaking barriers, singling out the accomplishments of U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. She wished President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump a "quick and full" recovery from COVID-19 and acknowledged that the pandemic has plunged the country into "chaos" and wrapped Americans in a "magnitude of loss."
She rallied her guests by highlighting the heart and strength of Americans, drawing parallels to her husband, who went back to work, she said, four days after they buried their eldest son, Beau Biden, after he died of cancer in 2015.
"In the face of this chaos, we're working together and we're holding onto one another," she said of the country during the pandemic. "We care more about people than politics."
Biden also urged people to vote early.
"This is it," she said. "There are no do-overs."
Biden began her day in St. Paul's historically Black Rondo neighborhood, where she met with the owners and patrons of Flowers By Carolyn and the Golden Thyme Coffee & Cafe to discuss the campaign's "Build Back Better" plan to help small businesses. St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter accompanied Biden.
Journalists were not permitted to observe the meetings in person due to limited space and COVID-19 safety protocols, said her staff. They observed from outside the businesses.
Brian White Jr., who owns 2 Scoops Ice Cream Eatery on the corner of Selby Avenue and N. Milton Street with his father, aunt and uncle, welcomed Biden's visit. The Black-owned business is across from the flower shop and sported a Biden-Harris campaign sign in the window.
White said the next president can help small and Black-owned businesses by improving access to investment capital and space, and keeping abreast of state and city policies that most directly affect such businesses.
"Sometimes when you're working at the federal level … it's easy to lose sight of what's going on at the grassroots level," he said.
Jen Thorson and Rae Cornelius, neighbors who live a few doors down from the ice cream shop, joined more than a dozen Biden-Harris supporters who stood watch outside.
"We have to restore decency," Cornelius said.
"It's fundamentally the future of our country at stake," Thorson said.
Cornelius volunteers with two organizations — one nonpartisan and one left-leaning — to encourage people to vote. Thorson was being trained earlier in the day to help the Biden-Harris campaign reach voters via text message.
"I really haven't been this involved" before, Cornelius said.
Biden then visited the Sanneh Foundation in St. Paul, which collaborates with the nonprofit Esperanza to distribute free food to 500 to 800 families a week. The groups are nonpartisan.
Gov. Tim Walz and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., joined Biden at the foundation to distribute food.
"It's great," Esperanza's community outreach specialist, Carlos Montoya, said of Biden's visit. "It puts a magnifying glass on what we're doing here."
Foundation founder and CEO Tony Sanneh said the next president should invest in education and local communities to ensure food security for Americans.
"In this world we have enough resources that we shouldn't have people starving, especially in this country," Sanneh said. "We need to do better."